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Frost & Sullivan’s most recent end-user research detailing the factors that motivate the adoption of a hosted solution has shown that 61% of companies have moved to the model because of the ease of provisioning and the ability to manage multi-site and remote agents.

According to Gartner Research, 1 out of every 10 international call centres is likely to shift at least partly to home-based agents – a trend known as “homeshoring”.

Bruce von Maltitz, director of 1Stream, a local hosted call center technology provider  who has recently been given the Frost & Sullivan Most Entrepreneurial Hosted Technology Provider Award, says that this is very much in line with their client requirements. “We’ve seen companies move towards more call centres that are less premise-based for a few years now,” he explains. “They can create a queue that includes agents in multiple centers, or allow for skills-based routing – which does not require agents to be in the same location. This means that anyone – from a professor to a housewife – can work as call center agents, regardless of where they are based.   Managers can schedule and monitor agents from any location in the world.”

According to Frost & Sullivan’s report, whilst homeshoring is still in its early years, the number of work-at-home agents are rising rapidly and “could become the industry norm in the coming years and in time, represent an appealing alternative to off-shoring”.

“South Africa is particularly well-suited to at-home-agents because we have so many different languages native to different provinces and geographic areas. Rather than build a call center in each area, we could have skilled workers in different areas, dealing with customer queries in different languages. This not only enables a workforce but reduces operational costs dramatically,” says Von Maltitz.

Renting floor space is no doubt one of the biggest expenses a call center undergoes, which is effectively eliminated by homeshoring, and some agents pay for or provide their own equipment, including computers, furniture and telephones. There are also other associated benefits, including boosting employment and reducing the carbon footprint of the call center, because there is no need to commute to work.

“Although  many call center managers might see it as the riskier option to take, it’s not hard to manage a workforce without being in the same building,” explains Von Maltitz. “Start by hiring highly trained, experienced and motivated agents. A mature and proven workforce is vital to the success of a home-based model and so is  the right technology provider that can advise you about the proper reporting and monitoring tools that need to be put into place.

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